The heart broken widow bride

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Marine Sergeant Lena Basilone was the wife of Medal of Honor winner John Basilone,one of the famous Marines every Marine Corps recruit learns about at boot camp. He is often discussed in Marine Corps history classes but no one ever mentions that his wife was a Marine too.

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John Basilone (November 4, 1916 – February 19, 1945) was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who was killed in action during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both of these decorations in World War II.

On Iwo Jima’s D-Day – February 19, 1945 – Basilone was a machine-gun section leader who came ashore on Red Beach 2.  He was part of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.

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Facing unbelievable firing power, from Japanese defenders, Gunnery Sgt. Basilone and his Marines made progress toward their objective – an airfield on the island.  Urging his men to keep moving forward (lest they die), Basilone displayed the same type of heroic behavior which earned him the Medal of Honor at Guadalcanal.

Then … he was hit and killed.

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Lena never remarried and she lived in California until her death in 1999. One of her few, if not only, public appearances after John’s death was about nine months after he died. She was the official sponsor of the destroyer named after him, the USS Basilone, and she participated in its christening ceremony:.

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Above is the obituary of Lena Basilone.  It tells us that she never remarried, after the Iwo Jima death of her husband, John Basilone.  Lena was 86 years old when she died on the 11th of June, 1999.

Before her death, the federal government had offered Lena a burial spot in Arlington Cemetery, not far from the location where her husband is interred.  Lena turned down the offer, reportedly saying that “she didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone.”

Instead, she is interred at Riverside National Cemetery, Plot 50 0 5557 in Riverside, California.

Here is the text of the article:

(Originally Printed) WEDNESDAY. JUNE 16, 1999
Ex-Marine Lena Basilone dies

Obituary:  Services Wednesday for longtime Lakewood resident.  Lena Basilone, former Marine, tireless volunteer and wife of America’s first Word War II Medal of Honor recipient, died Friday. She was 86.

Lena Mae Riggi was born March 7, 1916 in Portland, Ore. to Italian Sicilian immigrants. After leaving Oregon, she attended business school. When WWII broke out, she found herself enlisted in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton. “She served as a field cook (on the base), and her title was Sergeant,” said Barbara Garner, longtime friend and roommate.  “Her attitude was ‘I can do anything they (men) can do.’ ”

It was during this time that she caught the eye of a decorated Marine, a man who was the United States’ first WWII war hero. His name was John Basilone. John had been stationed in the Pacific theater of the war. After defending a narrow pass and annihilating an entire enemy regiment on the island of Guadalcanal in 1942, John was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal is the United States’ top honor for war-time duties.

John returned home to ticker-tape parades and instant nationwide fanfare. He went across the country, mingled with the president, met movie stars and helped raise $1.4 million in War Bonds. He was even offered a commission and a position in Washington. However, John was not complacent hanging around desks and smiling for the cameras and his reaction to the Washington job was:

“I ain’t no officer, I ain’t no museum piece and I belong back with my outfit.”

So back into action he went.

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But before he left, a romance blossomed between him and Lena. “They met at Camp Pendleton. He was very charming, good-looking, yet tough. He was a man of honor and quite a hero. All the ladies thought he was a very good man,” said Barbara. On July 7, 1944 the couple wed.

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After a short, happy time together, John headed back to the war-torn South Pacific. It was there that John died, in an exchange of heavy gunfire on the island of Iwo Jima. The date was February 19, 1945. “Lena was notified of Johnny’s death on March 7, 1945. It was her (32nd) birthday,” said Barbara.

For his selfless dedication to his country, John was awarded the Purple Heart and Nary Cross posthumously.

In 1949, Lena christened a Navy destroyer ship, named the USS Basilone. Years later, the city of Raritan, N J. erected a statue in his honor.

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Lena never remarried and was content with her life. She once told Barbara: “Once you have the best, you can’t settle for less.” She purchased a home in Lakewood and stayed there for over 50 years until her death.

“Lena had a large network of friends, she was active in many organizations and she was a terrific cook,” said Barbara, “She enjoyed inviting a large group over and cooking them a special meal (for Thanksgiving and other holidays).”

Lena stayed active by working at an electrical company, volunteering at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital, the American Veterans Auxiliary and the Women’s Marine Association. She also was a faithful member of the Liberty Baptist Church of Long Beach.

“She was a very determined lady, loved by many … when she saw a need, she would go about filling it,” said Barbara.

One important event that Lena never lived to see was the dedication of a 17-mile stretch of the San Diego (5) Freeway near Camp Pendleton, to be named ‘Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Freeway.’ The official word that the resolution passed came Monday, just three days after her death.

“The (newer generation of) Marines don’t know who he was,” said Frank Turiace, former U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and decorated Korean War veteran, wanted to change that,” With the help of state Sen. Bill Murrow, Turiace set out on a mission to make sure that John is never forgotten.” He (Murrow) was very instrumental in putting this through … he has the connections,” said Turiace.

“This stretch (of highway) is to honor John and Lena.” Although the federal government offered to bury Lena in Arlington National Cemetery near her husband, she refused because “she didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone.” Services are set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Hunter Perez Mortuary, 5443 Long Beach Blvd.

Local Marines will provide a bugler and pallbearers. A private service will follow at Veterans Administration National Cemetery in Riverside.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Veterans of WWII Association.

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Henoch Kornfeld-His only crime he was a Jewish child.

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Henoch’s religious Jewish parents married in 1937. His father, Moishe Kornfeld, and his mother, Liba Saleschutz, had settled in Kolbuszowa, where Henoch’s mother was raised. There, Liba’s father bought the newlyweds a home and started his new son-in-law in the wholesale textile business.

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Henoch was born in late 1938, and was raised among many aunts, uncles and cousins. Around Henoch’s first birthday, Germany invaded Poland and soon reached Kolbuszowa. Polish soldiers on horses tried to fight against the German army, but they were no match for tanks. After a short battle, there were many dead horses in the streets. Henoch’s town came under German rule.

1940-42: Everyone in town, including the children, knew of Hafenbier, the vicious German police commander with the face of a bulldog who was posted in Kolbuszowa. Hafenbier terrorized and killed many of the town’s Jews. Henoch often played a game with the other children in town in which he would portray Hafenbier, saying to his friends, “If you are a Jew, you are dead.” Then, with a rifle made from a piece of wood, Henoch would “shoot” his playmates. They, in turn, would fall over, pretending they had been killed.

Henoch and his family were deported to the Rzeszow ghetto on June 25, 1942, and then to the Belzec extermination camp on July 7 where they were gassed. Henoch was 3 and a half years old.

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My name is Aleksander- A Lebensborn victim.

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Should we succeed in establishing
this Nordic race, and from this seed bed
produce a race of 200 million,
then the world will belong to us.

Heinrich Himmler
Mastermind of the Lebensborn Program

FOLKER HEINECKE

Everyone in the neighborhood admired the handsome young boy called Aleksander. Born in the Crimean town of Alnowa, he had blond hair and piercingly beautiful blue eyes.

When the child was 1 year and 10 months old, Hitler’s troops swooped into Crimea (which, at the time, was part of Russia). It was 1942, and Aleksander’s parents were about to experience something far worse than the German occupation of their town.

While Aleksander was playing outside of his parents’ home, two Nazi SS * officers spotted the child. The toddler fit a profile of children about whom the officers, like others in their unit, had been instructed. They were told to find … and … kidnap such children.

The SS officers took the boy from the front yard of his home.

Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and one of Hitler’s right-hand men, had concocted a plan about creating a “master race.” The race would be Aryan-based. Its people would be strong with blonde hair, blue eyes and with not a trace of any features which appeared “Jewish.”

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The program was called “Lebensborn”—meaning—“Fountain [or Spring] of Life.” The plan consisted of two very different parts:

  • SS officers, considered supremely Aryan, would either have four children each, with their Aryan-appearing wives or, if that were not possible, they would father children with blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic women who were not their wives. In a sense, these offspring would be “Children of the Master Race.”
  • SS officers would remove Aryan-appearing children from families living in German-occupied lands, have them tested to be sure they were non-Jews and then give the kidnapped children (after they were “re-educated”) to pre-approved Nazi couples who would raise the children as their own.

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Aleksander, and his parents, were some of the unfortunates living in German-occupied territory.

After he was forcibly removed from his home, the toddler was taken to a town in Poland where he was examined. When he was found “worthy” of being “Germanized,” he spent about one year at Sonnenwiese (“Sun Meadow”), a large, institutional “home” for Lebensborn children in Kohren-Sahlis, near Leipzig.

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At Sun Meadow, the kidnapped children were not provided with love and comfort from their attenders. Instead, the Lebensborn nurses followed the child-rearing advice of Dr. Johanna Haarer (for whom rules and strict order were more important than love and tenderness).

Beyond having no one to help them deal with their pain and sense of loss, the Lebensborn chilren were treated like products-on-a-shelf when potential adoptive parents came to visit:

The Nazi-faithful foster parents came to this Lebensborn home in Kohren-Salis where they selected the children they desired, almost like products from a catalog – they could choose their German child. If the foster parents did not like us, it was also possible to return the child. So the child was simply a product, stolen goods.

After completing his reeducation-adoption program, Aleksander was given to a German couple for adoption.

His real parents never saw their son again.

For decades thereafter, Aleksander was (and still is) known as Folker Heinecke.

FOLKER HEINECKE

His “parents” raised him well, providing him with love and a good education, but he never really knew who he was. Nor, apparently, did his adoptive parents.

I have had a good life and I loved my adoptive parents, even though they were Nazis. I was just without roots and it was these roots that caused me to spend over 30 years of my life looking for the secrets of the past.

I had a good upbringing after the war. My parents gave me a good education, spells in London, Paris and Ireland. They believed in Nazism at the time but they weren’t war criminals and always did right by me.

But of course they could not answer the question of who I was. They didn’t know.

After their deaths, Folker searched and searched and searched for answers. Who was he? Where was he from? Who were his real parents? Where were they?

Not until the Red Cross opened a major Holocaust-era archive, in the German town of Bad Arolsen, did Folker get a chance to find answers to his questions. His quest, even at the archives which focus on displaced persons, was not easy.

Sifting through documents, potentially applicable to millions of people, he was able to piece-together his childhood story. It was then that Folker learned his real name and the town of his birth. As reported in various newspapers:

The files showed that he was first taken to Lodz in Poland—the Nazis called it Littmannstadt—where SS “doctors” examined him to find out if he was “worthy” of Aryanisation.

“The files show I was measured everywhere – head size, body size, whether I had ‘Jewish Aspects’ or not,” he recalled.

“Then I was declared to be capable of being Germanised and was shipped back to the Fatherland.”

What Folker does not know, and what he would like to find-out, is what happened to his real parents. If he can learn those details, he would like to visit their graves:

The former shipping agent, who lives in Hamburg, now has one quest left in life: to discover the grave of his real mother and lay flowers on it.

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The Battle of Bamber Bridge

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The Battle of Bamber Bridge was an outbreak of racial violence and mutiny that began in the evening of 24 June 1943 among American servicemen stationed in the British village of Bamber Bridge, Lancashire. Coming just days after the 1943 Detroit race riot.

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The incident was sparked by the attempted arrest by white Military Police (MPs) of several black soldiers from the racially segregated 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment in the Ye Old Hob Inn public house.

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In the following hours, the situation was further inflamed by the arrival of more military police armed with machine guns, and the response of black soldiers who raided the armoury and armed themselves with rifles. A firefight broke out, and continued until the early hours of 25 June. The fight left one soldier dead and several MPs and soldiers injured. A court martial after the event convicted 32 soldiers of mutiny and related crimes, but put blame on poor leadership and racist attitudes among the MPs.

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On 20 June, 1943, an estimated 100,000 black civilians travelled from Detroit city to the Belle Isle on the Detroit river to relax in the 90 degree heat. Rumours began to spread of a black woman and her baby being murdered, which quickly led to tensions and later fighting on the way back to the city.

The rioting tragically resulted in 25 black people dead, 17 shot by the police, and riots quickly spread to Texas, Massa, Ohio, Harlem and 4,000 miles to North West England. Bamber Bridge had been the headquarters for the 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment for several months, and many of the American black soldiers would socialise in Preston.

On the evening of Thursday, June 24 1943, several black GIs decided to stay in Bamber Bridge and drink in thatched pub the Olde Hob Inn. At 10 pm, the drinkers in the pub jeered as closing time was announced, the atmosphere already tense between the GIs from the news of the riots in Detroit. Military Police passing by attempted to arrest one GI in the pub, resulting in a backlash from other drinkers.

A British soldier asked: “Why do you want to arrest them? They are doing nothing wrong.” However, they then attempted to arrest several more GIs between the pub and Adams Hall, their base. The result ended up in a GI being shot and injured. Three Military Police vehicles set it off again at midnight after a brief calm period, by returning to the base armed with a machine gun. The word was spread from the gates to the several hundred soldiers inside, who broke into storerooms for weapons and ammunition.

They smashed through the gates and headed into Bamber Bridge, where they launched an attack on all Military Police and vehicles. British civilians watched as their quiet town erupted in violence and gunfire, forcing many to hide indoors away from the chaos. The Military Police set up a road block and again tried to arrest the disorderly GIs. Local policeman alleged that the Military Police ambushed the GIs by trapping them in the road with machine guns. One GI was shot and died several days later. More than 20 men were found guilty and charges included resisting arrest and illegal possession of rifles. Sentences ranged from three months to 15 years, but most soldiers had these reduced and were serving again within a year.
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Theodore Roosevelt Jr.-the forgotten Roosevelt.

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The Roosevelt name must be one of the best known names in US and world history, for it was the name of not 1 but 2 legendary presidents.

A lesser known but not a lesser heroic man was Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.

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Five months before the allied landings in Normandy, Roosevelt was assigned to the U.S 4th Infantry Division (Ivy Division), and was stationed in England. Roosevelt had requested to lead the attack on Utah Beach with the first wave of soldiers; however, this request was repeatedly denied by Major General Barton. Barton eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Barton made it very clear that he did not expect Roosevelt to live through the initial landings on Utah Beach.

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As a result of this agreement from Barton, Roosevelt would be the only General to land with the first wave of troops on any of the allied beaches on D-Day.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War. Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

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His decision to start the battle regardless of this error, worked in favour of the allies. As many of the German’s stationed in this area were redeployed to deal with the allied paratroopers dropping over Sainte Marie Du Mont, resistance from this part of the Atlantic Wall coastal defences was considerably weaker than expected.

Later in the day, once the beach head at Utah Beach was secured, General Barton came ashore and to his great surprise, Roosevelt was waiting to meet him. Barton never expected to see him alive and both men were filled with great emotion.

On July 12th 1944, after being involved in fierce fighting, Roosevelt died from a heart attack. He was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, Normandy. He was buried next to his brother, Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed in the first World War.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried in Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45.

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For his bravery, Theordore Roosevelt Jr was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Dear Sir, I salute you.

Oberleutnant Armin Faber-Oops I did not mean that to happen.

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber was a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II who mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed his Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw 190) intact at RAF Pembrey in south Wales. His plane was the first Fw 190 to be captured by the Allies and was tested to reveal any weaknesses that could be exploited.

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber anxiously scanned the ground below, his eyes constantly drawn to the fuel gauge of his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, hoping desperately to spot an airfield. It was the evening of 23 June 1942 and the Luftwaffe pilot, running perilously low on fuel after an intense dogfight over southern England, was searching for somewhere to put his aircraft down.

Minutes later a feeling of relief washed over him. There in the distance was an aerodrome. He rapidly descended, gently bumped the Fw 190 down onto the grass airstrip, cut his engine and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

No sooner had he done so, however, than a man in blue uniform came running towards his plane, holding what looked like a pistol. Strange, the German pilot thought. Then, as the figure came nearer, he recognised the man’s uniform and his heart instantly sank – it was that of an RAF officer!

Before Faber could restart his engine the man reached the cockpit and shoved a Very pistol in his face. Faber realised that he wasn’t in France at all. In fact, the Luftwaffe pilot had landed at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, home to the RAF’s Air Gunnery School.

 

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In June 1942, Oberleutnant Armin Faber was Gruppen-Adjutant to the commander of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2, Second Fighter Wing) based in Morlaix in Brittany. On 23 June, he was given special permission to fly a combat mission with 7th Staffel. The unit operated Focke-Wulf 190 fighters.

Faber’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 of III/JG 2 at RAF Pembrey, June 1942

The Fw 190 had only recently arrived with front line units at this time and its superior performance had caused the Allies so many problems that they were considering mounting a commando raid on a French airfield to capture one for evaluation.

7th Staffel was scrambled to intercept a force of six Bostons on their way back from a bombing mission;

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the Bostons were escorted by three Czechoslovak-manned RAF squadrons, 310 Squadron, 312 Squadron and 313 Squadron commanded by Alois Vašátko.

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All the Bostons returned safely while a fight developed over the English Channel with the escorting Spitfires, which resulted in the loss of two Fw 190s and seven Spitfires, including that of Alois Vašátko, who was killed when he collided with an Fw 190 (the German pilot bailed out and was captured).

During the combat, Faber became disoriented and separated from the other German aircraft. He was attacked by Sergeant František Trejtnar of 310 Squadron. In his efforts to shake off the Spitfire, Faber flew north over Exeter in Devon. After much high-speed maneuvering, Faber, with only one cannon working, pulled an Immelmann turn into the sun and shot down his pursuer in a head-on attack.

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Trejnar bailed out safely, although he had a shrapnel wound in his arm and sustained a broken leg on landing; his Spitfire crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon.M

Meanwhile, the disorientated Faber now mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north instead of south. Thinking South Wales was France, he turned towards the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey.

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Observers on the ground could not believe their eyes as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

The Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sergeant Jeffreys, identified the aircraft as German while it was landing and he ordered his men to signal it to park in the dispersal area. As the Fw 190 slowed, he jumped onto its wing and took Faber prisoner with a flare gun (as Pembrey was a training station, Jeffreys had no other weapon to hand).

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley (twin brother of Richard Atcherley).

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Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. This was possibly unwise as at one point, the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missed Faber.

What the RAF needed was an intact Fw 190 so that they could unpick the technical secrets of Hitler’s new super-fighter. But how to get hold of one? Various schemes were put forward, one of the more outlandish being proposed by Squadron Leader and decorated ‘ace’ Paul Richey, which sounds like a plot straight out of Dad’s Army.

His plan was for a German-speaking RAF pilot, wearing Luftwaffe uniform, to fly a captured Messerschmitt fighter (of which the RAF possessed several) made to look as if it had been damaged in combat, into France and land at an Fw 190 aerodrome. The “German” pilot, would then “taxi in to where the 190s were, let off a stream of German, say he was a Colonel so-and-so, and wanted a new aeroplane as there was a heavy raid coming this way. With any luck, an airman would see him into a Focke Wulf…and he’d take off and head for home..

But Richey plan was not required because Armin Faber delivered the RAF with the FW 190,’free of charge’.

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The Holocaust- Eisenhower’s evidence.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower quote from Orhdruf Concentration Camp April 15, 1945

At the end of World War II, General Eisenhower made a decision to personally visit as many Nazi concentration camps as he could. His reason? He wanted to document the camps and their appalling conditions.

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(picture below is of inmates demonstrating how they were tortured)

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Anticipating a time when Nazi atrocities might be denied, General Eisenhower also ordered the filming and photographing of camps as they were liberated.  Members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps recorded approximately 80,000 feet of moving film, together with still photographs.

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Within months after the war in Europe, about 6,000 feet of that film footage was excerpted to create a one-hour documentary called “Nazi Concentration Camp”.  Prosecutors used the film, which is graphically gruesome, to prove that Nazi leaders, on trial at Nuremberg, had perpetrated unbelievably heinous crimes against humanity.

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Thomas Dodd, one of the U.S. prosecutors, introduced the film into evidence on the 29th of November, 1945.  When the lights came up, after the trial film was screened, people had a new understanding of what the words “concentration camp” really meant.

Eisenhower wanted to be in as many pictures as possible to prove the death camps really existed. He was sometimes accompanied by Generals Bradley and Patton (such as their visit to the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 12, 1945).

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Operation Paperclips-Evil deeds rewarded.

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Operation Paperclip (also Project Paperclip) was the code name for the O.S.S.–U.S. Military rescue of scientists from Nazi Germany, during the terminus and aftermath of World War II. In 1945, the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was established with direct responsibility for effecting Operation Paperclip.

The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was for the U.S. to gain a military advantage in the burgeoning Cold War, and later Space Race, between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

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By comparison, the Soviet Union were even more aggressive in recruiting Germans: during Operation Osoaviakhim, Soviet military units forcibly (at gunpoint) recruited 2,000+ German specialists to the Soviet Union during one night.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) established the first secret recruitment program, called Operation Overcast, on July 20, 1945, initially “to assist in shortening the Japanese war and to aid our postwar military research.” The term “Overcast” was the name first given by the German scientists’ family members for the housing camp where they were held in Bavaria.[4] In late summer 1945, the JCS established the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), a subcommmittee of the Joint Intelligence Community, to directly oversee Operation Overcast and later Operation Paperclip.

The JIOA had one representative of each member agency of the Joint Intelligence Committee: the army’s director of intelligence, the chief of naval intelligence, the assistant chief of Air Staff-2 (air force intelligence), and a representative from the State Department.In November 1945, Operation Overcast was renamed Operation Paperclip by Ordnance Corps (United States Army) officers, who would attach a paperclip to the folders of those rocket experts whom they wished to employ in America. President Truman formally approved Operation Paperclip and expanded it to include one thousand German scientists in a secret directive, circulated on September 3, 1946.

One of the most well-known recruits was Werner von Braun, the technical director at the Peenemunde Army Research Center in Germany.(dresses as civilian in the picture below)

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who was instrumental in developing the lethal V-2 rocket that devastated England during the war.

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Von Braun and other rocket scientists were brought to Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico, as “War Department Special Employees” to assist the U.S. Army with rocket experimentation. Von Braun later became director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which eventually propelled two dozen American astronauts to the Moon.

SS General Hans Kammler, who as an engineer had constructed several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers in the rocket program. Arthur Rudolph, chief engineer of the V-2 rocket factory at Peenemünde, endorsed this idea in April 1943 when a labor shortage developed. More people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by it as a weapon. Von Braun admitted visiting the plant at Mittelwerk on many occasions, and called conditions at the plant “repulsive”, but claimed never to have witnessed any deaths or beatings, although it had become clear to him by 1944 that deaths had occurred.He denied ever having visited the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp itself, where 20,000 died from illness, beatings, hangings, and intolerable working conditions.

Some prisoners claim von Braun engaged in brutal treatment or approved of it. Guy Morand, a French resistance fighter who was a prisoner in Dora, testified in 1995 that after an apparent sabotage attempt, von Braun ordered a prisoner to be flogged, while Robert Cazabonne, another French prisoner, claimed von Braun stood by as prisoners were hanged by chains suspended by cranes.However, these accounts may have been a case of mistaken identity.Former Buchenwald inmate Adam Cabala claims that von Braun went to the concentration camp to pick slave laborers: “[…] also the German scientists led by Prof. Wernher von Braun were aware of everything daily. As they went along the corridors, they saw the exhaustion of the inmates, their arduous work and their pain. Not one single time did Prof. Wernher von Braun protest against this cruelty and bestiality during his frequent stays at Dora. Even the aspect of corpses did not touch him: On a small area near the ambulance shed, inmates tortured to death by slave labor and the terror of the overseers were piling up daily. But, Prof. Wernher von Braun passed them so close that he was almost touching the corpses.

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Von Braun was not the only one who had actively taken a part in the genocide. Many more of the Operation Paperclip scientist had committed awful crimes, but yet they were rewarded with a comfortable job working for

Every year since 1963, the Space Medicine Association has given out the Hubertus Strughold Award to a top scientist or clinician for outstanding work in aviation medicine.

Hubertus Strughold

In April 1935 the government of Nazi Germany appointed Strughold to serve as the director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring’s Ministry of Aviation

In October 1942, Strughold attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects.

 

These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result. Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Service.

 

 

Japanese attacks on North America

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A little known fact of WWII is that Japan attacked North America several time. Aside from the Pearl Harbor attack, the other attacks were relatively unsuccessful

Below a summary of some of those attacks.

On June 3–4, 1942, Japanese planes from two light carriers Ryūjō and Jun’yō struck the U.S. military base at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Unalaska, Alaska.

Originally, the Japanese planned to attack Dutch Harbor simultaneously with its attack on Midway but it occurred a day earlier due to one-day delay. The attack only did moderate damage on Dutch Harbor, but 78 Americans were killed in the attack.

On June 6, two days after the bombing of Dutch Harbor, 500 Japanese marines landed on Kiska, one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Upon landing, they killed two and captured eight U.S. Navy officers, then took the remaining inhabitants of the island, and seized control of American soil for the first time.

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The next day, a total of 1,140 Japanese infantrymen landed on Attu via Holtz Bay, eventually reaching Massacre Bay and Chichagof Harbor. Attu’s population at the time consisted of 45 Native American Aleuts, and two Americans – Charles Foster Jones, a 60-year-old ham radio operator and weather observer, and his 62-year-old wife Etta, a teacher and nurse. The Japanese killed Jones after interrogating him, while his wife and the Aleut population were sent to Japan. The invasion was only the second time that American soil had been occupied by a foreign enemy, the first being the British during the War of 1812.

A year after Japan’s invasion and occupation of the islands of Attu and Kiska, 34,000 U.S. troops landed on these islands and fought there throughout the summer, defeating the Japanese and regaining control of the islands.

Bombardment of Ellwood

The United States mainland was first shelled by the Axis on February 23, 1942 when the Japanese submarine I-17 attacked the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California. Although only a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well were damaged, I-17 captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was officially estimated at approximately $500–1,000. News of the shelling triggered an invasion scare along the West Coast.

Bombardment of Estevan Point Lighthouse

More than five Japanese submarines operated in Western Canada during 1941 and 1942. On June 20, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-26,

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under the command of Yokota Minoru,fired 25–30 rounds of 5.5-inch shells at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, but failed to hit its target.Though no casualties were reported, the subsequent decision to turn off the lights of outer stations was disastrous for shipping activity.

Bombardment of Fort Stevens

In what became the only attack on a mainland American military installation during World War II, the Japanese submarine I-25, under the command of Tagami Meiji, surfaced near the mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon on the night of June 21 and June 22, 1942, and fired shells toward Fort Stevens. The only damage officially recorded was to a baseball field’s backstop.

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Probably the most significant damage was a shell that damaged some large phone cables. The Fort Stevens gunners were refused permission to return fire for fear of revealing the guns’ location and/or range limitations to the sub. American aircraft on training flights spotted the submarine, which was subsequently attacked by a US bomber, but escaped.

Lookout Air Raids

The Lookout Air Raids occurred on September 9, 1942. The only aerial bombing of mainland United States by a foreign power occurred when an attempt to start a forest fire was made by a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1 “Glen” seaplane

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dropping two 80 kg (180 lb) incendiary bombs over Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon. The seaplane, piloted by Nobuo Fujita, had been launched from the Japanese submarine aircraft carrier I-25. No significant damage was officially reported following the attack, nor after a repeat attempt on September 29.

Fire balloon attacks

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Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America. Carried by the recently discovered Pacific jet stream, they were to sail over the Pacific Ocean and land in North America, where the Japanese hoped they would start forest fires and cause other damage. About three hundred were reported as reaching North America, but little damage was caused. Six people (five children and a woman) became the only deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland United States during World War II when one of the children tampered with a bomb from a balloon near Bly, Oregon and it exploded. The site is marked by a stone monument at the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Recently] released reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military indicate that fire balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba. A fire balloon is also considered to be a possible cause of the third fire in the Tillamook Burn. One member of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion died while responding to a fire in the Northwest on August 6, 1945; other casualties of the 555th were two fractures and 20 other injuries.

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Escape from Auschwitz

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Four Poles, Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanislaw Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart, and Eugeniusz Bendera, escaped on June 20, 1942 after breaking into an SS storeroom and stealing uniforms and weapons. In disguise, they drove away in a vehicle that they stole from the SS motor pool, and reached the General Government. Jaster carried a report that Witold Pilecki had written for AK headquarters.

On the Saturday morning of 20 June 1942, exactly two years after his arrival, Piechowski escaped from Auschwitz I along with two other Poles, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster ,

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veteran of Invasion of Poland in rank of first lieutenant from Warsaw; Józef Lempart ,a priest from Wadowice; and Eugeniusz Bendera , a car mechanic from Czortków, now Ukraine. Piechowski had the best knowledge of the German language within the group, and held the command of the party.

They left through the main Auschwitz camp through the Arbeit Macht Frei gate. They had taken a cart and passed themselves off as a Rollwagenkommando—”haulage detail”—a work group which consisted of between four and twelve inmates pulling a freight cart instead of horses.

Bendera went to the motorpool; Piechowski, Lempart, and Jaster went to the warehouse in which the uniforms and weapons were stored. They entered via a coal bunker which Piechowski had helped fill. He had removed a bolt from the lid so it wouldn’t self latch when closed.

Once in the building they broke into the room containing the uniforms and weapons, arming themselves with four machine-guns and eight grenades. Bendera arrived in a Steyr 220 sedan (saloon) car belonging to SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Kreuzmann, As a mechanic he was often allowed to test drive cars around the camp.

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He entered the building and changed into SS uniform like the others. They then all entered the car: Bendera driving; Piechowski in the front passenger seat; Lempart and Jaster in the back. Bendera drove toward the main gate. Jaster carried a report that Witold Pilecki (deliberately imprisoned in Auschwitz to prepare intelligence about the Holocaust and who would not escape until 1943) had written for Armia Krajowa’s headquarters.

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https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/03/30/forgotten-history-witold-pitecki-the-man-who-sneaked-into-and-out-of-auschwitz/

When they approached the gate they became nervous as it had not opened. Lempart hit Piechowski in the back and told him to do something. With the car stopped, he opened the door and leaned out enough for the guard to see his rank insignia and yelled at him to open the gate. The gate opened and the four drove off.

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Keeping away from the main roads to evade capture, they drove on forest roads for two hours, heading for the town of Wadowice. There they abandoned the Steyr and continued on foot, sleeping in the forest and taking turns to keep watch. . Kazimierz Piechowski eventually made his way to Ukraine, but was unable to find refuge there due to anti-Polish sentiment.

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Forging documents and a false name, he returned to Poland to live in Tczew, where he had been captured. He soon found work doing manual labor on a nearby farm, where he made contact with the Home Army and took up arms against the Nazis within the units of 2nd Lt. Adam Kusz nom de guerre Garbaty (one of the so-called “Cursed soldiers”).

His parents were arrested by the Nazis in reprisal for his escape, and died in Auschwitz; the policy of tattooing prisoners was also allegedly introduced in response to his escape. Piechowski learned after the War from his boy-scout friend Alfons Kiprowski, who remained a prisoner at Auschwitz for some three more months after his escape, that a special investigative commission arrived at Auschwitz from Berlin to answer—independently of the camp’s administration—the question as to how an escape as audacious as Piechowski’s and his companions’ was at all possible.

When Poland became a communist state in 1947, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for joining the Home Army, serving seven.